Conference season is in full bloom in the US. Though, this year I will swap talks and posters to dirty diapers and spit up and, instead, only reminisce last year's AMS conference in Phoenix, AZ. Why? Because this was the first major conference I could attent by using alternative travel methods to flying. Working in Boulder, Colorado, the travel to AMS meant either some 1,300 km (almost 15 hours of straight driving) or a cozy 1-hour flight from Denver.
The road from Boulder to Phoenix luckily goes through - in my opinion - one of the most scenic areas in the continental US. For an European, the continental US west of rockies is something straight out of a western. We started from Boulder and drove to Moab - a desert city favoured by travellers 590 km from Boulder. January being a low season, the city was almost unpopulated by tourists. From Moab one can access two national parks - the Canyon Lands and Arches. Also there's the state park Dead Horse Point that I consider the most spectacular of these parks. Unfortunately, our visit coincided with the government shutdown and the national parks were closed for traffic. The most what we saw was from the visitor center parking lot but even then the views were spectacular.
The road from Moab to Phoenix continued through Monument Valley - where so many classical western have taken place. Before the Valley there comes a little town of Bluff with its pioneer museum, and the state park Goose Neck - both places highly worth visiting. The Monument Vally itself is within the territory of the Navajo Nation Reservation and with a fee you can drive around the area (4-wheel recommended).
After exploring Monument Valley, we stayed one night in Tuba City (and tried Denny's for the first time) before continuing to Phoenix for some serious conferencing. The trip took four days to finish (with two nights in Moab) and was definitely worth the extra time.
At the end I give you three facts from the trip:
1) The slogan of Utah is "Life Elevated" because it lies in 1,860 m above sea level.
2) The CO2 emissions for two travellers from Denver to Phoenix by plane (economy class) was estimated to be 0,419 t and by car (SUV) 0,713 t (co2.myclimate.org).
3) The best part of road tripping to a conference is the company!